Oct 20, 2014

Carry On, Sergeant! Tour with Live music by the HILOTRONS

Carry On, Sergeant! (1928) 35mm, 107mins with a live score by the HILOTRONS

CARRY ON, SERGEANT! was shot at Trenton Studios in Ontario and in the surrounding countryside by British Director Bruce Bairnsfather, with legendary Canadian filmmaker Gordon Sparling working as his assistant director. With a budget of $500,000, it was the biggest-budget film produced in Canada up to that time. Much of that budget went to recreating WWI-era France, with sprawling sets and battlefield scenes featuring hundreds of extras.

The story follows a group of workers from Hamilton who join the army to fight in WWI, and the travails and temptations that befall them during the war. The film has excellent production values and presents a drama that may feel surprisingly modern to today’s audiences. Bairnsfather’s insistence on portraying the soldiers as flawed human beings resulted in some criticism from those who expected a straightforward glorification of Canada’s war effort. The main character has an affair with a French bar maid and dies on the battlefield. The veterans of the Great War were not impressed; in fact the whole subplot of the affair was edited out of the later version of the film.

Produced as a silent film just as theatres were transitioning to sound, it had only a brief run at the box office before it was removed from circulation in January 1929. It fell into obscurity for many years before Gordon Sparling donated a print to Library and Archives Canada, resulting in a complete restoration of the film. 

Tour dates and locations: